Home » Governance » World Bank Gesture Shows Goodwill (allAfrica.com)

THE gesture by the World Bank in the form of a $20 million grant to assist Zimbabwe improve its public finance management systems is plausible, as this is crucial for sustainable economic management and to boost efforts aimed at improving public service delivery. This, coming from the influential multilateral institution, which Zimbabwe is in the process of re-engaging, gives hope that all is not lost for the country.

According to World Bank senior financial management specialist Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo, the project is expected to start before year end.

Addressing an ACCA regional public sector governance and internal control conference in Victoria Falls Mr Domelevo said the grant will assist the Government in improving its financial reporting through installing new models of software which are better and more efficient than the ones they have been using.

Further, he said the World Bank help the office of the auditor-general to perform its function and the Bretton Woods institution would also assist Government to improve its auditing skills.

This entails the use of the accrual-based accounting through adoption and implementation of internal public sector accounting standards which promote greater transparency and accountability in the public sector finances and allows for enhanced monitoring in respect of Government debt and liabilities.

Governments require effective, transparent and accountable public finance management to ensure efficient allocation and application of resources into priority areas for effective service delivery.

This is all the more important for developing countries such as Zimbabwe, which, faced with serious resources handicap, require optimal, efficient and appropriate utilisation of public finances. Since governments get most of their revenue from tax payers, contributors have a constitutional right to know how and where their money is used and whether it goes to improve their lot.

If religiously followed proper public finance management systems can help direct resources towards enhancing economic growth, Government operations and the general welfare of the citizenry, who cannot call the State to account for its actions on a daily basis.

Appropriate application and accountability for public finance may also give confidence to external development partners and investors to provide resources in the knowledge they will be put to good use with systems for transparency and accountability.

This is because Government systems span a wide spectrum of areas from central Government to State arms, departments, institutions and enterprises, which require uniform systems for resource accountability to ensure effective monitoring and control.

Such resources management systems also come amid regular reports by Government auditors exposing serious governance deficiencies relating to the handling and application of public finances.

These financial misdemeanours border on lack of accountability and transparency, which collectively results in leakages, inefficient and ineffective use of State resources, which are in short supply.

Governance weaknesses have also been observed in areas of internal controls of financial resources, record keeping, diversion of resources from fund accounts to ministries, reconciliations, late submission of fund accounts and management of Government properties and resources among other areas.

If the deficiencies are not urgently addressed, through strong accountability systems, they will continue to drain critical resources. As such, strong public financial management systems are essential for effective and sustainable economic management and public service delivery.

This is so particularly because states are effective and accountable when underpinned by good public finance institutions and systems. Such systems are also indispensable in ensuring that aid is being used to achieve stated development goals.

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